New mural promotes downtown

Above: A new, interactive mural in the first block of downtown was completed over the weekend.

FAIRMONT — A new interactive mural in the first block of Downtown Plaza, Fairmont, might give you the idea to take a picture next to it. And you should. The new attraction aims to draw people downtown while highlighting the various businesses and their offerings.

Several people played a part in bringing the mural to life. While the mural is on a building owned by Jeff and Denise Rouse, Jeff said the goal was to help beautify downtown with something unique and at the same, promote the businesses there.

The mural was designed by Denise, who said it was intended to be whimsical. It features a man about to propose to a woman. Denise modeled the couple after her daughter and her fiancé. At the feet of the couple are shopping bags bearing the names of all the businesses downtown that people can purchase products in.

Also included is a menu sign that features the various bars and restaurants downtown.

Jeff said he went to each of the businesses downtown that sold a product and asked if they would like to be featured and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

“We wanted to show the 26 businesses that you can purchase product in. People don’t realize there’s that much downtown, but there is,” Jeff said.

Lining the building are umbrellas of various heights that people can pose beneath. Jeff said they lend the opportunity for people to take a photograph with.

The Martin County Arts Council oversaw the process of choosing the artist, Kim Koppen, and the amenities sub committee of the downtown revitalization group assisted in the effort.

Alex Young-Williams, a Lead for Minnesota Fellow hosted in Fairmont by Project 1590, is a member of the arts council and said they received 20 gallons of paint with a paint the town grant from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. He said they received the grant in March and had been planning for the project since then.

Koppen, a retired art teacher from Fairmont Elementary School, said she saw a posting calling for an artist and submitted a sketch and was selected.

Koppen said they entertained the idea of painting directly on the building, but she said that doesn’t always stand out the greatest so she cut the wood in order to do a 3-D display.

She shared that one of her favorite parts about painting the mural was coming up with the ideas for the different packages.

“I was going to do them all a solid color with the business name, but then I started doing patterns and tried to decide what reflects each store,” Koppen said.

She said she loved adding the flowers, representing Dee’s Floral, and the pocket box, representing jewelry from Sovell Jewelry.

Of her involvement with the project, Koppen said she enjoyed being able to do something fun for the community.

While 26 downtown businesses are featured in the mural, Jeff said that they welcome opportunities to expand it. Both he and Young-Williams said they’re also always looking to add more artistic features downtown.

“If you have a business downtown and you have an idea for a mural or something artistic, feel free to reach out to us. We’re around,” said Young-Williams.

The new mural joins another one, several blocks further downtown, on the side of the 5 Crazy Ladies Boutique. It was installed over the summer with help from a grant the Red Rock Center for the Arts received and was painted by local community members.


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